"The Ruthless Divine"

By Dr. Abner Mality

NIVIANE is a band that creates conflicting views in me. There's no doubt this California band plays a style of metal I like, power metal with touches of thrash and prog. There's also no doubt that these guys can really play...the musicianship is impeccable. Why, then, do I find it hard to wholeheartedly endorse them?

Well, these guys sure don't believe in the "less is more" philosophy. I think a little dose of that might have helped them here. "The Ruthless Divine" clocks in at more than an hour of richly fruity power metal. They play it well, they play it true but they lay it on awful thick. Some songs seemed a good minute to 2 minutes too long. But the real polarizing factor here will be the vocals of Norman Skinner. Yep, the same guy who made IMAGIKA so hard for me to take. This guy feels it's his duty to try every vocal style he can and go full blast with all of them. His clean tones are, shall we say, dramatic and they are often multi-tracked into oblivion. Some guys can make this approach work. For me, Norm is just too much. He also tries a harsh higher register that is cringeworthy and not pleasant to listen to. I found half of his work here acceptable...the other half just works against the music. That's the same thing that brought IMAGIKA down, in my opinion.

As to the music, there are definitely some strong moments here. "Fires In the Sky" and "Fallen From Elysium" have their moments for sure and ironically, the longest song "Sinking Ships" is the one that works the best all the way around. To me, NIVIANE just seems to be lacking some quality that makes the likes of SYMPHONY X or the heavier QUEENSRYCHE so strong. That being said, outside of Skinner's harsh shrieks, there's nothing really terrible about NIVIANE and your mileage may vary considerably than mine.